“The State of Emergency that has helped us successfully implement our containment efforts against the spread of COVID-19 ends on Tuesday. But the danger remains, so our level of preparedness must continue to remain high,” Mirisim said.
He said since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the first reported case in PNG on March 20, the response by the government has been aggressive – shutdown of borders, ban on international flights and marine vessels, and SOE to restrict movement of people and enforce social distancing.
“The result has been a success; only 8 cases have been reported, and all infected persons have recovered fully.”
Mr Mirisim said as PNG adopted “the new normal of living with the coronavirus”, the Public Health Emergency Act will ensure the government responds quickly in the event new infections are detected in the country.
“The SOE ends on Tuesday. After consultations with medical and legal experts, the Public Health Emergency Act was drafted, taking into account views of sectors of our community.”
Mr Mirisim said it was wrong to suggest that when the SOE ends today, the Act takes over and immediately suspends certain constitutional rights of citizens, and the procurement process of government.
“These arguments on social media are pushed by people who misunderstood the Act, or just don’t care. The fight against the deadly COVID-19 is far from over. The Act allows the Government to retain a level of readiness to respond swiftly should an unexpected emergency occur.
“We all read and see the news. COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to rise, even as countries around the world resume normalcy. As of last night, more than 8 million cases have been recorded globally with over 430,000 deaths.
“With infection spreading fast in Indonesia and Brazil, there are fears of a second wave as authorities report a resurgence in new cases in the past week in China, Iran, United States, South America and some European countries.
“Therefore, we cannot afford to be complacent. The priority of the Marape-Steven Government is to protect the lives of our people. We are not prepared to let down our guard under any circumstance.”
“Let me be unequivocally clear about this: only in an emergency situation will provisions of the Public Health Emergency Act be triggered to enable health and law enforcement to move swiftly to contain an emergency, such as when an infection or a cluster of infections are detected.”
Mr Mirisim added: “The Marape-Steven Government is not prepared to trade this level of public health readiness for anything less. The health and safety of our people comes first.”